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What do developers actually do all day?

This is basically a rehash of an article I wrote for an in-house publication, I've had to edit it a bit to make it suitable for an external audience and out of respect for my client at the time.... but I do get asked this question an awful lot so thought I'd share this with this you:

What do developers actually do?  This is a question I get asked a lot.... to be honest I get it asked an awful lot – and I’ve always assumed that people were just being rude! It wasn’t until my girlfriend turned round to me one day and asked that same infamous question that I realised that most people honestly don’t know what our job actually involves.

It’s even worse at parties and social gatherings when people ask that question. It would be easy to reply accountant or mechanic – but say ‘I’m a software developer’ and nobody has a clue what you do! Well parties have just got easier.... thanks to everybody now having one of those new lovely smart phones in their pocket.

‘Well’ I start, ‘you know those apps that you down load to your phone?.... you know the ones, Angry Birds or the spirit level app that people like to use on tables in pubs whilst shoving beer mats under that one uneven leg (we didn’t need an app for that when I was young) or the one where you throw some screwed up paper in a waste paper basket just by tapping the screen? Well that’s an application which has been written by a software developer and that’s what I do.’  People usually sound a little more interested at this point and ask what apps I’ve written.... ‘Have you heard of the the latest Safety Inspection app? It allows you.........’ I reply this is where the conversation dries up.

Anyway us developers have been churning out ‘Apps’ or applications for years – some are web based forms and some are applications that run on your desktop PC and of cause  don't forget those trendy apps that run on your smart phone.  

Christian Miles